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Preview: France seeking top-table finish against beleaguered Poland

Proceedings in the 2024 UEFA European Championship Group D come to a potentially dramatic end on Tuesday as France and Poland lock horns in Dortmund.

Both teams stuttered on Matchday 2.

France shared the spoils with the Netherlands in an odd 0-0 draw at RB Leipzig’s Red Bull Arena last Friday, while Austria got the better of Poland 3-1 in the other fixture in this group.

While a narrow 1-0 victory against Das Team in their curtain-raising Euro 2024 outing keeps Les Bleus firmly in contention for a top-table finish, Poland became the first team to crash out of the tournament.

Michal Probierz’s side squandered an early lead in a 2-1 defeat against the Dutch on day one and couldn’t make amends against the Austrians last time out.

Not even Robert Lewandowski’s return from injury was enough to maintain the Eagles’ dreams of making it out of the Euros group stages for the second time in the nation’s history.

With nothing but pride left to play for in the closing group-phase round, Probierz’s team will at least look to save some dignity and potentially throw another spanner in France’s underwhelming Euros campaign.

Fans in attendance will hope that France vs Poland tickets will be worth every penny, especially with Didier Deschamps’ star-studded squad still owing a lot to their supporters.

France vs Poland head-to-head record

Beating Poland would probably see France lock down a top spot in Group D and, in turn, craft an easier path to the sought-after final on paper.

They’re seemingly in pole position to do just that, having curtailed the Poles’ run at the 2022 World Cup in the last-16 with an emphatic 3-1 triumph.

Mbappe’s scintillating performance in that fixture helped Les Bleus uphold a near-flawless record against Poland in the 21st century, making it three wins in four matches (D1).

If it’s any consolation for the Eagles, they at least scored their first goal against France this millennium in that thumping defeat.

However, you’d need to go back to 1982 for the last time Poland bested the French in any competition, winning 3-2 at the Spain-held World Cup en route to an iconic third-place finish.

That’s one of Poland’s three victories across 17 historic meetings with France, with the two-time European champions claiming nine wins in their remaining 14 encounters (D5).

Deschamps ‘unconcerned’ about profligate France

Unfazed by another dismal showing, France boss Deschamps is adamant there’s no reason to panic, even though his team only scored once in the opening two matches.

“I am not concerned,” the 55-year-old told BBC after Les Bleus’ scoreless stalemate against the Netherlands.

“It is just the name of the game. Sometimes you have countless chances and don’t hit the back of the net and sometimes it is the other way round.

“I would be worried if there were not any chances. Efficiency at high-level football is important and it is something we can work on.

Deschamps’ words were not far from the truth as France wasted numerous glorious scoring chances, especially in the first half.

Atletico Madrid talisman Antoine Griezmann had an awful game in front of goal, spurning two clear-cut opportunities inside the first 15 minutes.

However, France failed to impress after the break and were saved by a controversial VAR call that overturned Xavi Simons’ deadlock-breaker midway through the second half.

In his defence, Deschamps was without his captain, Kylian Mbappe, who stayed on the bench after suffering a broken nose against Austria.

Robert Lewandowski’s return insufficient for Poland

Everything in Poland spins around Barcelona ace Robert Lewandowski, but the veteran striker couldn’t help his national team avoid another catastrophic tournament.

After flaming out of the 2022 World Cup round of 16, the Poles have returned to their old habits of delivering unenviable performances at major tournaments.

Unless they upset the apple cart at Signal Iduna Park, it will be the fourth time in their fifth Euro finals appearance that they’ve gone winless in all three group-stage games.

Lewandowski was on the sidelines against the Netherlands, but he regained full fitness to make a second-half cameo versus Austria, albeit to no avail.

Probierz introduced his stalwart at 1-1, yet goals from Christoph Baumgartner and Marko Arnautovic sent his side packing with a game to spare.

During the post-match interview, Probierz confirmed Lewandowski was ‘fit,’ insisting he didn’t press the issue just because Poland desperately needed a win.

“He was fully fit and he has practised with the team,” he said, as quoted by Barron’s.

“We knew that this would be a highly intensive match and we decided with the medical team and Robert Lewandowski himself that he wouldn’t start from the first minute.

“We wanted to get through that Austrian defence in the second half and it’s a pity we couldn’t score that second goal before them.”  

No room for complacency

Despite Poland’s dreadful tournament and France’s dominant head-to-head record, the 2022 World Cup runners-up can ill-afford to take this contest lightly.

With the Netherlands facing Austria in the other round-three fixture and only a point separating these three teams ahead of the kick-off, Les Bleus could still miss out on a top-two finish in Group D.

If the Austrians beat Ronald Koeman’s team and Poland find a way to defy the odds in Dortmund, France would have to seek progression through one of the four best third-place finishes.

That’s hardly a way to embark on their quest to conquer the continent for the first time since 2000. On that basis, Deschamps’ side must approach this game with utmost seriousness.

With Mbappe set to regain his place in the starting XI, chances are the French will hold up their end of the bargain.

France vs Poland Potential Line-ups

France (4-2-3-1): Mike Maignan; Theo Hernandez, Dayot Upamecano, William Saliba, Jules Kounde; N’Golo Kante, Adrien Rabiot; Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe; Olivier Giroud.

Poland (3-4-1-2): Wojciech Szczesny; Jakub Kiwior, Pawel Dawidowicz, Jan Bednarek; Przemyslaw Frankowski, Sebastian Szymanski, Jakub Moder, Nicola Zalewski; Piotr Zielinski; Krzysztof Piatek, Robert Lewandowski.


France may be clear-cut favourites to pour more misery on Poland, but teams with nothing to lose could prove tricky to play against.

Deschamps would be naive to write the Poles off in advance. His side’s performances don’t give him that right.

Like England, Les Bleus have shown virtually nothing to support their tag as pre-tournament favourites.

Perhaps this could be a chance for Mbappe and his teammates to demonstrate their strength to the rest of Europe.

It’s unacceptable for a team of this potential to score a dismal average of 0.5 goals per match at a tournament of this magnitude.

Poland’s notoriously porous backline could offer the French frontline a field day, and we believe Deschamps’ charges could pack a punch in Dortmund.

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